The March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology was jointly awarded this April to David Page, Director of the Whitehead Institute, and Patricia Ann Jacobs, professor of human genetics at Southampton University Medical School and co-director of research at the Wessex Regional Genetics Laboratory. Both Page and Jacobs specialize in research on human sex chromosomes and the development of sex disorders.
Page has been studying the human Y chromosome for nearly three decades. He and his colleagues have changed the scientific community’s perception of the Y, revealing the mechanism by which it maintains its genetic diversity through recombination at palindromic regions on the chromosome. He has also investigated the developmental effects that arise when this process doesn’t occur properly, which can lead to a loss of sperm production, sex reversal, and Turner’s syndrome.
Jacobs’ research has also played a fundamental role in establishing current understanding of human sex chromosomes. She is best known for a 1959 paper that first described Klinefelter syndrome, in which males carry an extra X chromosome.
The March of Dimes Prize has been awarded annually since 1996 to scientists whose research has advanced the understanding and treatment of birth defects. Jacobs and Page jointly received the award, worth $250,000, on May 2nd, at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Denver, Colorado.
(Image from Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research)